Emily Appleton is a pupil at Guildford High School and Britain’s top ranked junior tennis player
Another busy week ahead but the training period is nearing an end and the next round of tournaments is fast approaching so I have to focus hard and keep up to date with all my school work at the same time. Today starts with a two-hour driving lesson. It’s been almost three months since my last lesson. I will have to see how much I remember and whether or not I might need to re think my test date. I get to school in time for double PE ‘A’ level. I have finished the syllabus so it’s another re-cap session. Not long now until the exams. Lunch is eaten en-route to the National Tennis Centre where I have a two-hour on court session with Jeremy Bates, former player and the women’s national coach. It’s a tough session as always. He always works you incredibly hard but he’s good and you know the session will be worthwhile. After that it’s straight to the gym for strength and conditioning then back home for dinner, homework and sleep.
School first thing and again it’s A Level PE but two double lessons in succession to ensure that the work I will be missing in a couple of weeks has been covered. It’s quite hard concentrating for long on one subject but the time flies and before I know it I am outside school waiting for my mum to pick me up. Lunch is, once again, in the car but Tuesdays mean the venue is St Georges’ Hill in Weybridge and a two-hour session with my technical coach David Collins. A good work out again but not as intensive as yesterday thankfully.
Wednesday mornings are spent in the gym working on my core and also in library catching up with any missed work. Then it’s off to the national centre for my on-court session with my principal coach James Auckland. Today we were working on my off forehand combined with my footwork around the court. Once again, a gym session follows – strength and conditioning. I’m still sore after the last one. A quick half-hour session with the nutritionist then it’s back to school for double economics then back home to refuel and regroup.
Thursdays are always tough as my timetable is split so I have to be at school at the start and end of the day, which makes for a lot of coming and going. Double PE first thing then it’s off to the national centre for my fourth on court session of the week. A mad rush to get back for double economics once again before heading home for homework and some well-earned rest.
IMG Transworld Sport are making a film about me so they will be following me around pretty much all day. We are starting early (7.30am) at St George’s Hill Tennis Club so that they can see me in action with the director of tennis. I love going to this club as the facilities and setting are lovely and I am always made to feel very welcome. Tennis over and we head down the A3 to school for another double economics lesson. These lessons are fine as we are a small group and I get a chance to catch up with my school friends as well as attend the lessons. They also help me when I am away competing. They send me lesson notes and ensure that I have all the information I need to do the homework. After the lesson, it’s back in the car and off to Queens Club in West London to train on the artificial clay. My next run of tournaments are to be played on clay and, whilst there are hardly any true clay courts in the UK, a few clubs have an artificial surface which has to suffice.
Today is my rest day. I try and have one of these every week. So no tennis but I will make a visit to my physio in Guildford for a check-up and massage and to iron out any sore muscles. I also have to pack, as I am off to France tomorrow to sign in for a $15k ITF Womens Pro event in Le Havre, which starts on Tuesday.
We head off early and get to the club without too much difficulty. This tournament is relatively local compared to some of the places I have travelled to already this year (Australia, Brazil, Costa Rica). I sign in when I arrive then it’s off to the courts to try and get a practice in before the light goes. The main draw doesn’t start until Tuesday so I have tomorrow available to practice as well which is essential as no two courts are the same and it takes a couple of days for you to get used to a club and the facilities on offer. No week is ever the same for me but I love the variety and am grateful that I go to a school that has an understanding head and teachers who give me the opportunity to follow my passion at the same time as gaining a first class education.